Photography / Tips and Solutions

What’s in Your Bag? North American Eclipse 2017 Edition

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As we start the countdown to the event of the year, I spoke to some people with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working, both inside and outside of B&H, to get a sense of what people are bringing with them to witness this amazing event. Let’s see what’s in their bags.

Peter Martin

CLEMSON UNIVERSITY

College of Science

“We are expecting huge crowds for our Eclipse Over Clemson event, so a lot of what I am being assigned to photograph includes crowd reaction and wide shots of the crowds as they observe the eclipse and participate in our event.“

For crowd shots, I will likely use my Pentax K-5 body, fitted with a Pentax smc DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 ED AL (IF) SDM lens. This is a great all-around lens because it is sharp, flexible, and not terribly heavy. I can zoom wide for the crowds, yet also get tighter shots of smaller groups.

Pentax smc DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 ED AL (IF) SDM Lens

“For tight shots of guest speakers and possibly for the eclipse itself, I plan to use a Pentax K-3 body with my Pentax SMC-FA* 80-200mm f/2.8 [IF] ED lens. On this body, this lens is effectively 120-300mm, which will work perfectly for guest speakers and tight crowd shots; it should also work for the eclipse itself, though it may not be as tight as I’d like. If not, I may switch to my Pentax 60-250mm f/4 ED DA* SDM lens.

Pentax Zoom Telephoto 60-250mm f/4 ED DA* SDM Autofocus Lens

“I’ll bring my old but trusty Manfrotto tripod with head, plenty of memory cards (I plan to shoot RAW and bracket a lot), and probably some rubber bands, if necessary, to keep the filter in place. I am looking at a number of different speed straps, like those from BlackRapid, HoldFast and Peak Design.”

Mark Bender

Director / Writer

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VIMEO
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Pro Tip: “If you can only bring one thing, bring a good pair of binoculars with solar filters. You really don’t need anything else to enjoy the eclipse.”

Bender is going to Carhenge, in Alliance, Nebraska. He feels that the man-made monument of Carhenge is an interesting juxtaposition with the magnificence of the eclipse. As a filmmaker, Bender is shooting video both for his own work and as part of the Google Eclipse Megamovie project. His gear list is impressive, here are the highlights:

  • Three SkyWatcher Star Adventurer camera tracking kits with tripods
  • Sony a7S II with a 14mm lens for location shots and wide-angle shots of the eclipse
  • Canon T2-i DSLR with a 300mm NIKKOR manual lens to capture inner corona shots
  • Between one and three GoPros for location, B-roll, and general ground shots
  • Ricoh Theta S. This will be set “about 3 feet from my gear to get a spherical movie” of him capturing the eclipse.
  • 50x lens for the Google Megamovie on an Apple iPhone 6-Plus
  • Extra batteries, memory cards, and external battery packs

Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Motorized Mount Astro Package

Jen Dudley Winter

Co-Owner of Daystar Filters

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Pro Tip: “On eclipse morning, double-check that the camera is actually switched into the ON position. This has burnt us more than once.

"For corona shots, we will be using a Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens with a Daystar ULF70 over the front. We'll use a Canon 5D Mark II with a USB serial cable that connects it to the laptop. We are using Eclipse Orchestrator to generate and run timed exposures in a script so he is sure to get all the good exposures for the different phases and the inner and outer corona.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens

“For partial phases, we will also use a Daystar 80mm Scout Hydrogen Alpha Telescope. This will be on a tracking mount like the Celestron C-Gem tracking mount. We are uncertain yet if we will use a Canon original 5D with the IR cut filter removed for this or a high-speed monochrome webcam. The large format monochrome webcams like the ZWO ASI1600 are large enough to capture a full disk, but they are a little harder to get. If the weather is good, we will use the ZWO 1600, but if we have to jump in a car and run, we’ll switch to the Canon.”

DayStar Filters Solar Scout 80mm f/17.5 H-alpha Achro Solar Telescope

Todd Vorenkamp

Senior Creative Content Writer for B&H Explora

Vorenkamp will be traveling to Nashville, TN, and has been planning this shoot for well over a year. He has also written about photographing the sun, moon, and eclipse, so there is real pressure to get a good shot. Hopefully, he won’t let us all down.

“I haven’t figured out my wide-angle/time lapse plan, yet,” says Vorenkamp. “It may be location dependent for where I end up in the Nashville area, but I will have two tripods and two bodies for this reason.” He adds, “The girlfriend has already picked out all of the places we will be eating, so, if it is cloudy, at least I will be well fed!”

CAMERA LENSES:

SOLAR FILTERS:

CAMERA ACCESSORIES:

TRIPOD MOUNTS:

BINOCULARS:

MISCELLANEOUS:

  • Boonie Hat
  • Boonie Hat to cover gear
  • White T-shirt to cover gear
  • Celestron Eclipse Glasses
  • Vixen Eclipse Glasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Portable Folding Chair
  • Change of clothing
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Razor
Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Joel Lowy

B&H Photo Video Pro Audio

Tip: “Be prepared, keep calm, and enjoy this very special day... ‘Where was I during totality? I was futzing with the app and then somebody texted me.’ Don’t be that guy.”

Taking a decidedly low-tech approach, Lowy’s plans are as humble as he is. “I am not going to try too hard to photograph any of it. I might try to take a quick photo with my phone to remember the day, but I just want to take it in.

“I would like to move away from my shouting, clicking friends, maybe with earplugs and noise-canceling headphones, and just take it in and live it. The darkness, the stars shining in daylight, the darkened surroundings, the special quality and color of the light, the corona…”

Lowy adds that if he did try to photograph anything, “it might be down here: the landscape, nature, the scene. I will see if there are any large, majestic trees around to include in a shot.”

Lowy is bringing Battery packs, solar glasses, headphones, sunscreen, snacks, water, and a backpack.

Lunt Solar Systems Solar / Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses

Jason Mulek

National Sales Manager, Celestron

Pro Tip: “Get to know whatever product you are going to use to view the Eclipse ahead of time.” Whether you bring “a set of paper solar binoculars, a dedicated solar binocular, or a telescope equipped with a solar filter—it’s important that you are not trying to learn your setup the morning of the Eclipse. Prepare ahead of time and practice viewing the sun before the big event.”

Like my colleague Joel Lowy, Mulek is taking a more “enjoy the moment approach”: “I will be using the Celestron 10x42 EclipSmart Binoculars myself. There are going to be so many photographs of the Eclipse that I am going to take the time and watch it visually and enjoy it that way.”

Lunt Solar Systems 8x32 White Light SUNocular Binocular

He will also be bringing a good chair, a hat, and sun screen, adding “don’t get a sunburn hanging out waiting for the Eclipse. It’s easy to be excited about the moment and walk away with a sunburn.”

Christopher Witt

Senior Technical Writer | Optics & Outdoor

Tip: PRACTICE! You don’t want to be fighting technology and miss this once-in-a-lifetime event. I’m getting to my location three days early and will be doing a lot of gear checks.

I’m going out to the Atlas Obscura Total Eclipse festival in Eastern Oregon, with the B&H Road Crew, to capture and cover the Eclipse. As an amateur astronomer and resident über-nerd, I’m going to set up the telescopes and tracking gear, as well as to do outreach with attendees.

As an astronomer (as opposed to photographer) my focus will be on the iOptron Solar 60 60mm f/6 refractor telescope with a GoTo mount. The version I’m bringing has an eyepiece imager that will be tethered to a laptop to capture a live-stream of the eclipse.I’ll also have a pair of Meade EclipseView solar glasses, plus an older pair of Meade 7x42 Porro prism astronomical binoculars with Daystar Solar filters solar lens filters. Since we’re going to a location with virtually zero light pollution (and be there days early), we’re also bringing a Meade LX200 scope for nighttime use.

iOptron Solar 60 60mm f/6 Achro Refractor GoTo GPS Telescope with Eyepiece Imager

I’ll also be rocking my Stetson straw hat and sunscreen to avoid sunburn. We’re basically going to be camping (think of it as a geekier Woodstock… Nerdstock, if you will), so I’ll also be dressing in layers, because the highs will be in the 80s during the afternoon, with lows at night in the 40s.

Have you prepared a checklist? Here is our blank Solar Eclipse Checklist to help you get started.

If I’ve learned anything while spending the last year getting ready for this amazing event, it is that nothing is more important than slowing down and savoring the sights and sounds. So, let’s all send out lots of positive energy so that we all have clear skies on August 21!

Comment below about what’s on your Gear Checklist, or where will you be going. Do you have any pro tips that can help fellow eclipse viewers? Let us know!

2 Comments

We'll be staying in place or we may visit friends at the lake.

Canon EOS 5D Mk III
Canon EF 300mm f4L (rental)
SanDisk Compact Flash 128GB (rental), 64 GB
Manfrotto MK290XTA3-3WUS 290 Xtra Aluminum Tripod with 804 3-Way Pan/Tilt Head
DayStar 90mm White-Light Universal Lens Solar Filter (2-Pack, 85-99m)
Vello ShutterBoss II Timer Remote Switch for Canon with 3-Pin Conn
Gaffer Tape (Black, 2" x 12 yd)
Phottix Stay-Put Sandbag II (Large)

I'll shoot a few frames of totality since I don't have a solar filter for the lens.
Canon A-1 with MA Motor Drive
Spiratone 400mm f6.3
Rollei Infrared 400 Black and White Negative Film (35mm Roll Film). It was a spur of the moment decision when I bought the sandbag at the last minute. Why not? 2024, I'll be shooting IR color & B&W.

For shooting the environment:
Canon New F-1
Canon FD 28mm f2.8
Kodak Ektar 100

Comfort/safety items/information for wife and me:
Celestron EclipseSmart Ultra (8 piece pack) (Gave two glasses to friends)
Sunscreen 70 SPF
Cooler of bottled water
Cooler of Benford Brewing Carolina Blackout (a black IPA brewed especially for this event)
10 x 8 ft canopy
2 Adirondack plastic chairs with cushions
SiriusXM XMp3 portable radio with DC powered speakers (Hoping there's eclipsed themed music)
Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21 book by Fred Espenak and Jay Anderson
Android phone with the Eclipse Smart app installed
Ralph: USC Gamecocks baseball cap (2011 Baseball Champions)
Paula will probably wear her wide brimmed hat she bought for The Masters (would also be stylish for the Kentucky Derby)

Todd,
You'll have to post all the great places in Nashville where y'all ate.

Mark,
Carhenge sounds like an interesting place for the eclipse. That's one place that I also want to visit, regardless of the eclipse.

Wishing clear skies for everyone!

That's a great kit, Ralph! I hope you had clear skies! Todd is still digesting all that BBQ :)

Stay tuned for a recap article from my trip with some great shots we captured.

Thanks for reading and sharing, Ralph...

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